Teaching kids about the significance of Remembrance Day (also known as Veterans Day) is very important. Not only will children be inquisitive about what all the poppies they see at this time of year but also because it is one of the most important days in our history. Depending on your family history, you may have had a family member or two serve your country and defend our freedom.
Obviously, considering the graphic nature of war, it’s also important to teach kids about Remembrance Day in an age appropriate manner.
Tips for Teaching Kids About Remembrance Day
Choose the Content You Discuss Wisely
The age of your children will ultimately dictate how you discuss Remembrance Day. While a 3-year-old may wonder what the day is about and why people are wearing poppies, older children can learn more about the history behind the great wars and other present day conflicts. How much detail you go into will depend on your child’s maturity level.
If your child is really interested in learning more about Remembrance Day and its history, talk with their teacher about what is taught in school for their age level and use this as a guide. You can also go to your local library and talk with the librarian about which resources would be appropriate for your child.
Focus on Honoring People
A great approach, and one that is appropriate for all age levels is to focus on the importance of honoring those who served in the war. Talk about the dedication and sacrifice that people made to ensure our freedom and safety today.
Talk About Your Family History
Another great way to teach the kids about Remembrance Day is to talk about family members who were in the war. Tell them what you know, where they traveled and, if you have them, show the kids photos of family members in uniform. You may even have a neighbor who served and, if they are willing, they could answer questions and share stories about when and where they served and why it’s important to honor the veterans.
A fun activity you could do with the kids is researching the history of a family member who served in the war. See what you can find out about them and the contribution they made to the war effort.
The Key Message to Share
“You can best honor them by using this day as a way to teach kids about both the honor and courage these people displayed in the course of performing their duties, as well as the valuable lessons they have taught us (namely, that the fighting of any war comes at too high a cost). In the end, Remembrance Day can provide an excellent way to instill your children with an understanding of the ramifications of war and give them a reason to work towards a more peaceful world.”
Why We Wear Poppies
Poppies are worn to pay tribute to those who gave their lives in war because poppies grew on the battlefields, especially on the Western Front, before and after World War One.
While serving in Ypres in 1915, the flower inspired Canadian doctor John McCrae to write his famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.
Ways to Help Children Remember
There are a number of ways that you can help kids learn about the significance of the day:
Have a conversation
One of the simplest and most effective ways to help your kids learn more about the day is to set aside some time to talk about it and answer their questions.
Wear a poppy
Wearing a poppy is important, but also explaining the reasons why you are wearing it will help kids gain a deeper understanding and respect for the day.
Attend a Remembrance Day ceremony
Make it a point to attend your local Remembrance Day ceremony. Giving the kids a first-hand chance to see veterans and be part of the celebration will encourage them to ask questions and learn more.
Attend a speaking engagement
If a veteran or member of the armed forces is holding a speaking event, consider taking the kids.
Perhaps an activity that is best suited for older kids, documentaries provide vast amounts of information about the history of the day, while also adding audio interviews and visuals that will add to your child’s learning experience.
Talk about the contributions of women and minorities
The Veterans Affairs Canada website offers great information on some of the often overlooked contributions of Aboriginal-Canadians, Women, Asian Canadians, and Black Canadians
Remembrance Day is a significant day in the world’s history. With fewer and fewer living survivors, it’s even more important than ever to remember the sacrifice these people made for our country. Teaching our children about the importance of Remembrance Day will help keep the memories of these soldiers and brave individuals alive now and in the future. While it’s great to have fun and educate your children, Veterans Affairs Canada provides us with a reminder of what is important:
“Never forget the contributions and sacrifices of the men and women who have served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace—especially those who did not return.”
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